If you are ready to grow your business in NEPA, you may be able to reduce your operating costs by utilizing a variety of tax abatement, tax credit, grant, and low-interest loan programs. Brief descriptions of some of the most popular programs are listed below.  Contact us when you are ready to expand.  We’ll help you figure out which programs work best for you and then match you with the people in high places who will help you apply for the funds.

Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance Program (LERTA)

CenterPoint Commerce & Trade Park

Every building constructed in Mericle’s CenterPoint Commerce & Trade Park receives a 10-year, 100% real estate tax abatement on improvements via the Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance (LERTA) program. This abatement program was approved by the Luzerne County Commissioners, the Pittston Area School Board and the Jenkins and Pittston Township Supervisors.

East Mountain Corporate Center

Buildings constructed on most of the sites owned by Mericle in the East Mountain Corporate Center receive a 10-year, 100% real estate tax abatement on improvements via the Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance (LERTA) program. This abatement program was approved by the Luzerne County Commissioners, the Wilkes-Barre Area School Board, and the Plains Township Board of Commissioners.

The annual real estate taxes you will save when you move into a LERTA-approved building will vary depending upon the cost of construction required to meet your exact specifications. Contact Mericle’s Leasing Team for a detailed savings estimate.

Keystone Opportunity Zone (KOZ) Program

If you are deemed to be an eligible business and you locate in a KOZ, you will be exempt from paying most state and local taxes through the end date of the zone. Some of the taxes abated in a KOZ include local real estate taxes, Pennsylvania’s Corporate Net Income Tax, Pennsylvania’s Capital Stock and Foreign Franchise Tax, and Pennsylvania’s Sales and Use Tax on the telephone, gas and electric service you use in the zone and on property or services (excluding motor vehicles) that you consume within the zone.

Mericle has several available properties that are located in KOZs.

Guaranteed Free Training Program
The Guaranteed Free Training Program (GFT-WED-netPA) is basic skills and information technology training for eligible employees of new and expanding businesses. The program can be used towards basic and entry level skills 
training and Information Technology/Advanced Information Technology training. Introductory level training, such as word processing, etc. is not eligible.

The Program is available to Pennsylvania manufacturing and technology-based businesses; and for Information Technology training. Trainees must be Pennsylvania residents, employed in Pennsylvania, be permanent full-time employees and earn at least 150% of the current federal minimum wage.

The program’s Basic Skills training provides up to $450 per trainee and $75,000 per company. The Information Technology training provides up to $850 per trainee and $50,000 per company.

Work Force Investment and Opportunity Act of 2014
The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) is a federally-mandated program designed to provide employment and training services throughout the country. Pennsylvania has established a one-stop system of service delivery coordinated through the local CareerLink® offices.

Eligible applicants include dislocated workers, and unemployed persons.

The funds can be used for job search and placement, skills assessment and evaluation, counseling, training services, for individuals and companies, supportive services, and labor marketing information.

Companies can receive reimbursement for up to 50% of wages paid to eligible employees during training and up to actual costs of classroom training and related training support services. Reimbursement varies by local workforce investment area.

Job Creation Tax Credit Program
The Job Creation Tax Credit Program offers a $1,000 state tax credit per new full-time job per year to employers who demonstrate effective development or deployment of leading technologies in business operations. Businesses must create at least 25 new full-time jobs or expand their existing workforce by at least 20 percent within three years of approval. Tax credits will not be applied until the workforce increase requirement has been met.

In order to count as a full-time employee under the JCTC program, new employees must earn an average of 150% of the federal minimum wage, excluding benefits. The credit may be utilized to pay a number of state business taxes. At least 25% of all available tax credits will be awarded every year to businesses that employ 100 or fewer employees. An eligible business must agree to maintain its operation in Pennsylvania for a minimum period of five years from the start date of approval.

Pennsylvania First Program

The Pennsylvania First Program is a comprehensive funding tool used to enable increased investment and job creation within the Commonwealth. The program assists businesses, municipalities, or IDCs who intend to create or retain a significant number of jobs and make a substantial investment within Pennsylvania. These businesses can receive support in the form of grants, loans and loan guarantees for job training, property acquisition, site preparation, land and building improvements, purchasing or upgrading machinery and equipment, infrastructure, environmental assessments, job training, and working capital.

The program requires participants to commit to operating at the approved project site for a minimum of seven years. Businesses aided by Pennsylvania First must create or retain at least 100 full-time positions, or increase their full-time employment by 20% within the Commonwealth. Full-time employees must earn at least 150% of the federal minimum wage. Other requirements include offering a substantial economic impact for the region and, at the least, matching the Pennsylvania First assistance requested with private investment.

Loan terms can be up to 15 years for real estate and infrastructure and up to 10 years for machinery and equipment. Interest rates will be set at the time of approval and will be based on the 10 year Treasury rate.

Luzerne County’s Business Development Loan Program
The goal of Luzerne County’s Business Development Loan Program is to create improved employment opportunities while strengthening our labor market through job training opportunities.

In order to receive a loan under this program, the business must demonstrate a positive direct impact on the community in which it is located, on residents of that community, or on the local and/or regional economy. The applicant must demonstrate the need for assistance through the program, and commit to creating employment opportunities that meet the job creation incentives.

Loan funds are available for eligible businesses at an interest rate of 1½% for terms of 7 or 15 years. The County may finance up to 50% of the eligible project costs, with a minimum loan amount of $50,000 and a maximum loan amount of $500,000. Loans under $100,000 will be for a maximum 7 year term. Monthly repayments of principal and interest will be required for the term of the loan. County funds must be secured by a letter of credit from a financial institution.

Funding will be provided for land and/or building acquisition; construction/renovation activities; purchase of machinery and equipment which is an integral structural fixture of the business; and professional and financial fees. Funding may also be obtained for working capital by manufacturing firms. To view the details of the program or for more information, please visit: www.luzernecounty.org